LCD cartel fines reduced by E.U. court

Errors were made when calculating the fines, the court said

The General Court of the European Union has slightly reduced fines imposed on LG Display and InnoLux for taking part in a cartel that fixed prices of LCD panels.

InnoLux's fine was reduced from €300 million (about US$410 million) to €288 million while LG Display's fine was reduced from €215 million to €210 million, the court said in a news release on Thursday.

The two display manufacturers were among five Korean and Taiwanese companies fined nearly €694 million by the European Commission in 2010 for breaching competition law, the court said. Samsung, was also part of the cartel but was let off without a fine because it had tipped off the Commission.

The companies had fixed prices of goods sold in the E.U. between October 2001 and February 2006, the Commission found at the time.

LG Display's and InnoLux's fines were the highest, based on the value of the affected sales over the duration of the cartel. Both companies sought annulment of the Commission's decision, or failing that, reduction of the fines, the court said.

Most arguments put forward by the companies were rejected by the court, but it did decide to slightly reduce the fines imposed.

InnoLux' fine was reduced because it had made errors when it provided the Commission with the data necessary for calculating the value of relevant sales, the court said. The company had included sales relating to products other than the LCD panels subject to the cartel. The Commission confirmed that those products shouldn't have been included in the calculation of the fine, according to the court.

Even though the court found InnoLux was negligent when it provided the Commission with inaccurate data, it decided to reduce the fine.

In the case of LG Display the Commission made an error when setting the fine when it took the month of January 2006 into account when calculating the average value of sales, the court said. That month should have been excluded because the Commission had granted LG Display partial immunity for that month for having provided information relating to the cartel.

The companies can appeal the case, limited to points of law only, at the Court of Justice of the European Union within two months of notification of the decision.

The same six companies were also fined $56 million in January 2013 by China for manipulating LCD panel prices. In China, Samsung was fined too.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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